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New Zealand D-Photo - - EDITORIAL -

The cre­ation of on­line com­mu­ni­ties has al­lowed us to con­nect di­rectly with other pho­tog­ra­phers, share our im­ages, and learn new tips and tech­niques. How­ever, there’s also a ten­dency to get caught in our own echo cham­ber — and of­ten it’s a pretty neg­a­tive one. Whether the lat­est im­age posted was a bit po­lar­iz­ing, some un­sound ad­vice has been shared, or the on­go­ing di­a­logue that sur­rounds the Nikon/Canon de­bate has reignited, fin­gers will type fu­ri­ously and emo­jis en­sue — with waves of neg­a­tiv­ity, ar­ro­gance, and de­struc­tive crit­i­cism served with­out a sec­ond thought. We may ei­ther align our­selves with or dis­tance our­selves from the poster — in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the real is­sue at hand — al­low­ing vig­or­ous de­bate to oc­cur, com­plete with name-calling, wild al­le­ga­tions, and a blan­ket crit­i­cism of the shooter’s en­tire oeu­vre. Al­ter­na­tively, we might sit and watch it all play out — metaphor­i­cal pop­corn in hand — as the per­son be­hind the screen, usu­ally after a bit of back and forth, crum­bles be­neath un­com­pro­mis­ing cri­tique. Why should grow­ing pho­togs have to hes­i­tate be­fore pub­lish­ing within a group, blog, or fo­rum? Why do we, as a com­mu­nity, ‘eat our young’? Per­haps it’s learnt from what we see take place among the pro play­ers: pho­to­jour­nal­ism con­tin­ues to host on­go­ing de­bates about ethics, ma­nip­u­la­tion, and stag­ing, harshly chastis­ing any pho­tog­ra­pher whose shoot­ing style doesn’t seem to align. It’s al­most com­i­cally in­evitable that the up­com­ing sea­son of World Press Photo will gen­er­ate an­other round of ar­gu­ments. That isn’t to say that con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion is un­war­ranted. No mat­ter how un­com­fort­able it is, crit­i­cism is nec­es­sary. In­deed, a con­sid­er­able amount of pho­tog­ra­phy falls into the bad cat­e­gory — blurry, over-ex­posed, un­der-ex­posed, or poorly com­posed shots, or pho­tos with­out a story — and learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of im­ages makes us bet­ter pho­tog­ra­phers and helps us grow. Good cri­tique of­fers more than just ca­sual crit­i­cism, and it can of­ten be dif­fi­cult to strike a bal­ance. It is hon­est, in­formed, con­cerned, and considerate — although some­times harsh if it has to be. No­tably, it looks be­yond a glance to go deep.

See you out shoot­ing, Re­becca Frog­ley Edi­tor

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